Tracking down this article on the New York Times took a bit more time than usual. The NYT had headlined this article as “Soft Pedal Captain America Overseas? Hollywood Says No.” Without a change in the copy, but with a remarkably different slant in the headline for the Korea edition of the International Herald Tribune, we end up with the above headline. And that was probably fair play given the Korea distribution/readership.
But all of this – the local headlines down to the Korean renaming – smacks of the so-called 386ers, as defined by Wikipedia: “Korean:386 세대, sampallyuk sedae) is a term that refers to the generation of South Koreans born in the 1960s who were very active politically as young adults, and instrumental in the democracy movement of the 1980s. The term was coined in the early 1990s, hinting at the then latest computer model, the 386, and referring to people then in the 30s, having attended university in the 1980s, and born in the 1960s. As the time flows, the people in 386 generation are in the 40s and the ’486 Generation’ is also used.”
This crowd, soon to be the ’586 Generation,’ has IMHO been as much as a pain as a boon to Korea. Yes, they did a lot to bring democracy into Korea – and for that they deserve a great deal of credit. But their ideology was originally based upon mimeographed tracts during the times of military censorship. Much of their reading material was specious in accuracy and intellectual honesty. And after censorship, their choice of reading material has often been more ideologically driven than factually based. And it was this generation who provided the teachers who came remarkably close to permanently confusing generations of students, as witnessed by the ludicrous anti-American/anti-mad cow disease demonstrations.
Since the demonstrations, Korea’s true adversaries have inadvertently struck their true colors by suggesting the early Koguryo Kingdom was Chinese and the North Koreans have come across as being worse than wayward brothers when sinking a ship and shelling an island. With information coming from a wider array of channels, the younger Korean generations have found themselves at times closer politically to their grandparents than their parents, which is bit weird until you understand the parents.
Getting back to the renaming of ‘Captain America’ in Seoul, the change may have been prudent business sense, since why take on a needless risk? But at the same time, I see the ideological/dogmatic mentality at work here. And just which generation is making this kind of business decision? You get just one guess.
Meanwhile, the days of standing in front of the US Embassy and screaming “F*cking USA!” are already, well, so passé. Times have changed – at least for most Koreans, if not all generations.
In Seoul, superhero gets a new identity
By Brooks Barnes
The New York Times
July 3, 2011